life

Leprosy & a Vibrant Discussion

I felt a bit like a leper yesterday. For a minute or two.

I received a text from the BSF Children’s Supervisor asking me about the shingles… how I feel, am I still contagious?

I am teaching third and fourth graders on Monday nights this year. Would I be out another week?

According to the discharge sheet I was given at Urgent Care, shingles is only contagious when the rash is present. The virus is spread via contact with the oozing blisters.

My rash is almost completely faded and it never did develop blisters. So my guess is that I am NOT contagious.  But, in an abundance of caution – to avoid the slightest chance of an epidemic of Chicken Pox running through the school program – it was decided that I should stay home until I get the all-clear from my doc on Tuesday.

“We’ll welcome you back October 8,” were the specific words that made me feel leprous.

The upside of being deemed “unclean” is that I got to sleep in this morning.

While my co-leaders were gathering at 6:30 am to prepare for Monday night, I was still snoozing. I awoke at 7:30 to the sound of the garage door opening. And I smiled.

I smiled big. The hub is truly a great man.

Late last night I reminded the hub that tomorrow was October 1st and October is Donut Month.

“I think we should have donuts in the morning. I think you should go to Avon first thing and bring some home.”

Avon is a bit of a drive so I figured his words of affirmation were insincere.

But then I heard the garage door open, smiled, stretched and slid out of bed.

I smelled coffee as I descended the stairs.

There in the dimmed lights of the kitchen I spotted the box.

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Looks like the hub already took one.

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While the clean among us were gathered for leaders’ meeting, I was curled up on the sofa sipping good, hot coffee, eating half of this donut and then half of that, watching the Premier League.

The downside of being deemed unclean is that I missed the vibrant discussion in the leaders’ circle.

But it’s okay. The Holy Spirit and I had a vibrant discussion of our own as I worked on my lesson yesterday.

I was reading the part in John 2 where Jesus cleared the temple of commerce, of money-changers, of disrespect.

“Who gave you the authority?,” the people asked.

The study questions suggested I look at Hebrews 8-10.

Our vibrant discussion began in Hebrews 10:

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He [quoted Psalm 40:6-8]:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First He said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. [italics added by me]

The Spirit pointed out that they were offered in accordance with the lower-case-l law.

The Spirit is brilliant.

I named some of the things we, the church, offer in accordance with the lower-case-l law that God does not desire, with which He is not pleased.

Things like forbidding women to teach men.

Really silly things like requiring a man to be onstage when a woman leads worship…

Things that Jesus never said or required, neither did the capital L Law nor the Prophets.

I doubt anyone at leaders’ meeting this morning had an insight as brilliant as the Spirit’s.

I started to think about the ever-present fellowship of the Spirit. With Her (I’m not trying to get all feminist here but since mankind is made in God’s image and since 50% of mankind is female, I’m guessing at least 1/3 of God is female. Plus, ever notice that Jesus never assigned a gender to the Holy Spirit – never used a pronoun; ever notice that the female pronoun is used for Wisdom in Proverbs?) anyway, with Her a believer is never alone. She walks right in, ignoring the quarantine.

And that reminded me of the movie Ben Hur. Remember when Judah Ben Hur’s mother and sister were in the leper camp? Such a lonely, desolate place.

The kind of place Jesus went then.

The kind of place the Holy Spirit goes now.

I wish the movie had shown Jesus in those caves having vibrant discussions with those lepers.

‘Cuz you know He did.

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Found these organic beauties at the Farmers Market today.  Had to do something to walk off the donuts.

full of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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life

Need Some Cooks in this Editorial Kitchen

I’ve been struggling with the intro to my Bible study. I didn’t love it so I rewrote it. But now I’m thinking maybe I should have left well-enough (but not great) alone.

The intro has two sections – a prologue and instructions on getting started. Will some of you kind souls put on your editor visors, read both choices and HELP ME? Please!

Prologue: This?

In late November 1997, I spoke at a lovely Advent by Candlelight gathering.  At the end of the evening one of the event organizers pressed a book into my hands in a way that told me I was supposed to have it.  The title of the book was Fashioned for Intimacy, by Jane Hansen and Marie Powers.  Since I was not married at the time and since I did not feel compelled to read it, I took it home and stuck it on a shelf.

In March 2002 I drove home from a sexual abstinence conference, my head spinning with information on human papilloma virus, cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia and all the STDs that are epidemic among teenagers.  I gulped at the thought of friends who had cervical dysplasia and had no idea it was associated with HPV and cancer.  I thought about all my young clients at the pregnancy help center who were putting themselves at risk for grave diseases and didn’t know it.  Statistically, many already had them.  The reality of it suddenly overwhelmed me and I started to cry.  Through tears I pleaded, “Lord, you have to warn them!”  In that moment I knew that He was planning to do just that, and He was going to use me to do it, and it wasn’t going to be easy.  I left my position as the executive director of a pregnancy help center and started a ministry of speaking to teens and their parents about making healthy choices.

In May 2009 I spoke at a Christian school, where I had been speaking annually for several years. That year, as one of the teachers walked me to my car on the fourth and final day of presentations, she expressed dismay over two graduates who had gotten pregnant just out of high school.  As I drove home, I wondered why, when it comes to dating, so many Christian kids go the way of the world.  Why the divorce rate among Christian marriages is almost identical to that of the general population. Why Christian young women – who know they are treasured by God – chase after defilement.  Why do they hear and not heed? Why is the church so ineffective in preparing our youth for healthy, lasting marriages?  Why, when we have such a big and able God, are so many relationships a mess?

As soon as I got home I fell to my knees and asked God those very questions.  I asked Him to please explain to me what our purity programs are missing.

He did.

He took me right back to the beginning of Scripture, showed me what went wrong and how it still plays out today.  He compelled me to read the book that had been pressed into my hands twelve years earlier.  Through that book, He introduced me to Dr. Katharine C. Bushnell’s 100 year old book, God’s Word to Women, which He used to get this ball rolling.

Or This?

It was a course fraught with danger and I was running scared – hurdling razor-sharp wires, dodging swinging pendulums, carefully and precisely maneuvering through intricate laser webs.  I moved with focused intensity and the terrifying expectation that I would make a fatal mistake.  As I approached each obstacle I braced myself for the big “Game Over.”

When I finally made it to the end I was mentally exhausted yet exhilarated over having survived with only a few cuts and burns. I wanted to do it again.  Once I knew it was possible to survive the maze, I wanted to see if I could come out completely unscathed.

But a knowing told me I couldn’t.  It told me that everyone gets only one turn.   I could, however, go back and cheer others on; talk them through it; warn them of impending dangers.

That somewhat prophetic dream pretty well sums up what I’ve been doing these last fifteen years – talking teens and parents through the minefields of adolescence and dating, cheering them on in hopes of getting them through unscathed. And yet with all of the genius that I and others impart, why, I wondered, do so many young people continue to rush toward defilement?  Why is the divorce rate among Christian couples almost identical to the divorce rate at large? Why, when we have such a big and able God, are so many relationships such a mess?

I seriously wanted to know, so I got down on my knees and asked. I begged God to show me what our purity programs are missing and He did.  He took me right back to the beginning of the Scriptures and showed me where the church has gotten some things wrong.  He shed a radically new light on my old understanding.   Now I am extending that light to you.

Which prologue do you like better? Does either one pique your interest in the study?

Getting Started: This?

This Bible study is my attempt to share what God taught me.  My prayer is that as you embark on this study you will set your mind to understanding and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all Truth.  We are going to dig deep so put on your thinking cap.

Some of the lessons are going to be a bit heavy.  On those days, grab the hand of the One who loves you.

Some lessons will challenge what you may have previously been taught.  If so, don’t be afraid.  Genuine faith isn’t so fragile that it will fall apart if you take a fresh look at Scripture and even question a few things.  Jesus often challenged the understanding of the religious leaders of His day and opposed the status quo.  Sadly, fear and/or love of the system of belief they had established did not allow them to consider new Truth.   Be brave.  Open your mind and let God shed fresh light on the Scriptures.  And please don’t just take my word for it.  Be a Berean (Acts 17:11).

Search the Scriptures and see for yourself.  My aim is not to convince you to think what I think. My aim is to set you in the Scriptures to seek what God thinks.  The last thing we need is more man-made doctrine.

I hope you will come each week ready to share what God has said to you through your study.  The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you as you begin this journey. Heaven esteems you when you set your mind to understanding.

Or This?

This is no fluffy, feel-good Bible study, though I hope parts of it will make you feel good.  Parts of it might make you mad.  It will definitely challenge you spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  If you are young, I hope it will greatly improve your future.  If you are older, I hope it will bring healing to your past – and greatly impact the futures of the young people in your life. My prayer is that as you embark on this study you will set your mind to understanding and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all Truth.

We are going to dig deep so put on your thinking cap.  Some of the lessons are going to be a bit heavy.  On those days, grab the hand of the One who loves you.  Some lessons will challenge what you may have previously been taught.  If so, don’t be afraid.  Genuine faith isn’t so fragile that it will fall apart if you take a fresh look at Scripture and even question a few things.  Jesus often opposed the status quo and challenged the understanding of the religious leaders of His day. Be brave.  Open your mind and let God shed fresh light on the Scriptures.  And please don’t take my word for anything.  Be a Berean (Acts 17:11).

Search the Scriptures and see for yourself.  My aim is not to convince you to think what I think. The last thing we need is more man-made doctrine. My aim is to lead you through the Scriptures to discover a more accurate understanding of what God thinks.

I’ve led enough groups through this study to know that it’s going to be a really tough task. We Christians have a very strong tendency to hold the Scriptures up to our understanding rather than holding our understanding up to them.  When we read a new interpretation of them our knee-jerk reaction is to declare, “That’s not what I’ve been taught!” And then we dismiss the new interpretation, or worse yet, we hate it.

The aim of this Bible study is to rethink some of the things we have been taught; to hold our preconceived notions up to the light to see how well they actually match Scripture.  The goal is not to hold this Bible study up to see how well it confirms our preconceived notions.  Did you hear me? The aim of this study is to rethink some of the things we’ve been taught! If that is out of the question for you at this stage in your Christian walk, then put the study aside until the Spirit nudges you to pick it up again.

As you proceed, ask the Holy Spirit to show you heaven’s perspective.  It’s His job to guide you into all Truth.

I hope you will do this study with a small group and share what God says to you. Each chapter is broken up into five sections, that way you can do one section per day and still have two days for catch up if life gets busy and you get behind.

The Lord bless you as you begin this journey. Heaven esteems you, dear scholar, when you set your mind to understanding.

I wrote the second “Getting Started” after I led a few groups through the study and realized just how hard it is for people to rethink. Is the rewrite too harsh?

Does either “getting started” pique your interest in the study?

I’m hoping the choices are obvious to you because they aren’t obvious to me – which makes me wonder whether I should go with option 3: neither.

Be kind, be gentle and be HONEST! And if you can’t be kind, gentle and honest then just be honest.

Thank you and God bless you for reading all 1780 words!

#notobvious

 

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Jesus, Light

Never, Ever Bored

Alaska

Just as I was about to head over to the farmers market before it closes, someone pointed out on a friend’s Facebook post that Jesus called Peter “Satan.”

I paused to type a quick comment in reply: “I’m not sure Jesus was actually calling Peter “Satan.” I think He was recognizing the one who was behind Peter’s words and helping Peter see it, too.”

And then I started thinking.

And now my sunny stroll through the market, my purchase of coleus if they still have it, will have to wait until Thursday.

‘Cuz I have something to say.

Remember back in Matthew chapter 4 when Satan tempted Jesus?

It was that third temptation that Jesus recognized in Peter’s words:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.

The offer was certainly tempting: Just sell your soul to me and you can bypass the agony of the cross.

But Jesus’s mission was not to win an earthly kingdom for Himself, His mission was to win a heavenly kingdom for us.  And that mission was going to be tough.  There was no way around it.

Tough or not, Jesus was sticking with it. So He said, “Away from me, Satan!”

See what I mean about the one whose words were behind Peter’s words?

Jesus told His disciples about His upcoming death.

Peter pulled Him aside and exclaimed, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”

And right away Jesus recognized that voice and He flashed back to that very high mountain and to the temptation to win an earthly kingdom full of faithful followers.

And He said no.

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

See how similar “Away from me!” is to “Get behind me!”

You are a stumbling block to me.

Satan couldn’t get Jesus to abort His mission directly – way back in Matthew 4, at the dawn of His ministry –  so he tried the back door at dusk, indirectly, using a loyal friend.

Because who can resist the loyalty of a friend?

But Jesus was way too smart for that.

Peter didn’t understand the magnitude of what Jesus was accomplishing. Peter didn’t understand that he was being used as a pawn in the enemy’s game. He didn’t recognize the enemy’s voice coming from his lips, but Jesus did.

Jesus addressed the one to whom He was speaking when He said, “Get behind me!,” and it wasn’t Peter.

Now that my mission to the market has been aborted, I think I’ll hang with the Holy Spirit – my best and most loyal companion  – and vacuum the furniture.

#favoritecompanion

#neverbored

 

 

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Light

Salty

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…,” my co-leader read as she gave her lecture Monday night.  Afterward, as is our practice, she asked the students if they had any questions or comments.

“No sea?,” a young man questioned.  He had just returned from Spring break at the ocean and he didn’t like the sound of that. None of us did.

Another student asked permission to read the footnote in his study Bible.

The footnote said something to the effect that the sea in John’s day was viewed as dangerous and changeable. It was also the source of the beast.

Does that mean that there will be a sea, but not the danger and changeableness that it represents?

Or does it literally mean, no more sea because of the danger it poses? In which case, what about the good things of the sea – the dolphins, the whales, the shrimp?

I had no answers, neither did my co-leader.

So this morning, I looked up the Greek word translated as “sea” in the Revelation 21:1.

The word, thalassa, (thal’-as-sah), according to my online Blue Letter Bible’s interlinear tool, is probably prolonged from the Greek word hals, which means salt.

Perhaps a better translation would be “there was no longer any salt in the sea.”

What makes the sea salty?, I wondered. Is it necessary for sea life?

According to the National Ocean Service, rocks on the land are responsible for the sea’s saltiness.  The acid in rainwater erodes rocks, dissolving bits of them and causing their “salty” sodium and chloride ions to be swept downstream and into the sea.

Hmmm, so, bottom line, it’s rain that ultimately makes the sea salty.

Rain doesn’t actually appear in the Bible until the seventh chapter of Genesis. Quite a bit of human history elapsed between Genesis 2, when mankind was formed and fashioned, and Genesis 7, when rain first appears.

Near as I can figure, prior to Genesis 7, the earth was watered from below.

“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” Genesis 2:5-6

In rain’s first appearance it is used as a tool of destruction, of judgment.

So perhaps “there was no longer any sea” (or salt in the sea) means there was no longer any judgment.

Or perhaps it means there was no longer both danger and judgment. Or perhaps it simply means there was literally no longer any sea.

What do you think?

When it comes to Revelation, your educated guess is as good as mine.

“Some areas of the ocean are saltier than others. This image shows methane mussels living at the edge of a underwater brine pool in a cavern at a depth of 650 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The pool of brine in the foreground is nearly four times as salty as seawater and is so dense that a submarine can float on the pool (in fact, this photo was shot from a submarine).”  – from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/whysalty.html

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life, Light

Totally Depraved?

Your idea of Saturday morning fun may not include reading up on total depravity, but that’s what I did this snowy April morn. (By “reading up” I mean I read the Wikipedia entry.)

Why on earth?

Because I got up at 5 am, fed my friends and then headed to leaders meeting where leader after leader affirmed the doctrine of the total depravity of man. One wonderful leader, a friend, supposed that even during the 1,000 year reign of Jesus (Revelation 20), even with Satan’s lying lips silenced, the behavior of people will spiral out of control.

But where in Scripture does it say that?

When God created mankind, He declared His work, “very good.”

Adam and Eve showed no signs of depravity until the deceiver showed up and, well, deceived them.

There is no mention in Scripture of any sort of rebellion during the 1,000 year reign of Christ. It isn’t until the serpent is released from the Abyss and starts deceiving people again that an army forms and marches against God. I agree that sin is present in every man, but in the beginning (Genesis 3) and in the end (Revelation 20) rebellion needed to be coaxed by deception.

Rebellions need a leader. An instigator.

That’s why who your child hangs out with is important.

That’s why who you listen to is important.

That’s why most – probably all – people have to be radicalized before they commit terrorist atrocities.

I know Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure,” (17:9) but back up your Bible reading bus and look what he said just before that: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man…” (v. 5) “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord…” (v. 7)

So here’s what I want us Christians to do: Check the Scriptures before we promulgate a man made doctrine. See if it’s written in red by Jesus, or in stone by the prophets.

Maybe even check Wikipedia to see where it originated.

And speaking of Saint Augustine, I cannot read or hear his name without being warmed by the memories of my many visits to St. George Street, Flagler College, Castillo de San Marcos, the Alligator Farm and even Fort Matanzas. I’m way past due for a return trip.

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St. George St., Saint Augustine, FL photo credit: Evangelio Gonzalez, Creative Commons

Bottom line:  If the doctrine you hold so dear originated with man, take it with a grain of salt. air.

Ahhhh, salt air.

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Horny, Ornery & Honorable

When it comes to how they relate to women, the Bible portrays at least three types of men:  the horny, the ornery and the honorable.

The ornery are know-it-alls who have no use for the wisdom of their wives.  They see them as mere adornments.  Take Xerxes for example. You can read all about him in the book of Esther.  You can also read about him in history books.  He was extremely tall and he came from an extremely brutal lineage.

The book of Esther opens with a pair of massive parties, thrown by the king.  All the men of Xerxes’s kingdom were invited to attend – presumably so he could get them onboard with his plans to invade Greece.

The party dripped with opulence, alcohol and testosterone.

In the middle of one of the feasts, Xerxes had an impulse to show off his amazingly beautiful wife, Vashti.  He called for her to come and parade herself in front of him and all his drunken guests, wearing her crown.  She refused to come because a.) She was busy hosting a party of her own and couldn’t exactly leave her guests, and b.)  It was in poor taste.

Some commentaries say she was to come wearing only her crown, but I don’t think so.  Even fully clothed it would have been improper for her to parade herself in front of the cat calls of a bunch of drunken men.

Scripture doesn’t say in what manner she refused the invitation – perhaps it was tactful, perhaps it was not.  But it does say that Xerxes made an angry, drunken, impulsive decision based on the advice of his seven drunken advisors.   A decision that Scripture hints he may have regretted (Esther 2:1).

Unfortunately, guys like Xerxes don’t admit they made a mistake, and they don’t act against the approval of their buddies.  His buddies wanted him to set an example for all the men of the kingdom by subduing his wife right off the throne.

So he did.

He booted Vashti and replaced her with another beautiful ornament.  His choice of a new queen had brains as well as beauty. If you know the story of Esther, you know that she was really God’s choice and that God chose her for a specific reason.

You also know that Xerxes’, evil advisor, Haman, hated the Jews.  So with his slimy, slithering, forked tongue, he manipulated Xerxes into issuing a decree to destroy them.  The decree was signed and sealed – no taking it back – and the annihilation of the Jews was imminent.

But yay for God!

He used Esther to outsmart Haman, save His people, and keep Xerxes from doing something very regrettable.  She was the kind of divine help Genesis 2 is talking about.

Xerxes was a lame and impulsive know-it-all.  The kind who will take the advice of his buddies without consulting his queen.*

Have you known anyone like that?  I have.

Some churches are full of men like that.

Some churches insist upon men being like that.

Some churches teach that Adam’s sin was in listening to his wife.  And they extrapolate that into teaching that godly men are the head of their homes and they make all the decisions and they don’t listen to their wives. Ever.

But not so fast. In Genesis 21:12 God told Abraham to listen to his wife.

There was nothing wrong with Eve speaking and Adam listening to her.

The problem was that Adam listened to his wife in general, the problem was that he chose to listen to her even though what she said was in direct opposition to what God had specifically told him.

In the NIV, verse 17 reads, “Because you listened to you wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you…” I think God emphasized the “you”.

Remember, Eve did not get the command first hand, Adam did.

It’s time to stop telling men to “man up” when manning up means ignoring the wisdom of their wives. Men feel pressure from their buddies or from their church to get control of their wives when deep down they know they can’t and shouldn’t. But the pressure is there, so they pretend in public and then they sometimes turn to pornography in private.  Phone sex girl is not going to give anyone a hard time – unless some poor soul pays her to do so.  But that’s a post for another day.

– excepted from my Bible study © 2010

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He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored…

Communion is highly organized and sanitized in Baptist churches – at least in every Baptist church I’ve attended. Sips of grape juice are portioned into little plastic cups and placed on trays; bread, wafers or crackers are broken into bite-sized bits.

The bread and the “wine” are passed down the pews, or the rows of comfy chairs. And it’s fine. Because, in those large churches, it would take forever for 50 x 3 rows of congregants plus an entire balcony to come down and sip from a single chalice.

But there is something about drinking from the cup. Or, in my case – call me a germaphobe – having my wafer dipped into the cup. Of wine. Maybe when you’re offering a communal cup you have to use wine. Maybe the alcohol kills germs. Maybe.

Anyway, I’m preparing to teach Revelation 14 Monday night, and I’m thinking about cups.

The cup of wrath and the cup of forgiveness.

Jesus said it there in the garden of Gethsemane, as He was sweating blood. “Father, if there is any other way, take this cup from me.”

If there had been any other way, Jesus’s desperate plea proves He would have taken it. He didn’t WANT to endure the cross.

If there had been another way, His Father certainly would have shown it. He didn’t WANT His son to suffer needlessly.

But there was no other way. So Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath. For us.

And now I see that cup again. At the end of chapter 14.

When evil had reached its full measure, “The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.”

And that gives a new depth to the Eucharist. When I drink from/dip into the cup I am identifying with the One who drank my cup of wrath. And I am grateful that He offers instead the cup of forgiveness.

The wine of His blood.

Because without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

The Baptist church offered communion once a month. On the first Sunday. The church I attend now offers it every Sunday. This week I took communion three times – Sunday morning, at a funeral on Tuesday and again on Ash Wednesday.

Wednesday evening I noticed the young girl next to me receiving the wafer into her cupped hands. Not taking it, receiving it. The wafer was then taken from her hands by the cup bearer, dipped into the wine chalice and placed in her mouth.

I started to notice others doing it that way. Then I remembered the cupped hands of my Catholic cousins receiving communion when I visited them as a child.

All these weeks I have been taking the wafer from the pastor’s hand with my fingers and handing it to the cup bearer. The first time up I even dipped it into the chalice myself.

It must be the way they are taught to do it, I thought, and dismissed it as an unnecessary ritual that this old dog needn’t adopt.

But today I’m seeing the beauty in humbly receiving the body of Christ into cupped hands.

And as I ponder this lesson, it comes down to this:

Any one of us can identify with the wily beast and drink the cup of wrath, or we can identify with Jesus, who drank it for us.

Special Valentine’s dinner with the hub tonight. Better get in the shower.

In related news: Six Stone Jars and a Cup of Forgiveness

And for my friend Alma, who is reading Revelation with me (and anyone else who cares to read a little bit more):

All those people who received the mark of the beast at the end of Chapter 13, who thought they were aligning themselves with power – or who thought they were doing what was necessary for survival, to get ahead, to be able to buy and sell, to be politically correct – were actually marking themselves for destruction. Because isn’t that way the beast always works – promising one thing, delivering another.

Paul expressed it like this:

“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5

Those beast worshipers thought they were winning, thought they were doing just fine, thought God didn’t really care about their sin. And all the while He was letting evil ripen and they were storing up wrath against themselves.

But, Hallelujah!, chapter 14 opened with the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion, high above the beast of the surf and the beast of the turf, worshiping before His Father’s throne.

He and the 144,000 who bear His name and the name of His Father, sing a new song. A song that only those martyrs can learn. ‘Cuz there are some things that only intense suffering can teach.

And if the Lamb’s response to the political madness, blaspheme and puffed-up noise of the beast is to stand before the throne and worship, then I think I’ll make it mine, too.

 

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